My Thoughts. . .
How sound must a congregation be, to continue to be the recognized body of Jesus? How “unsound” must a congregation be before another church may charge it with being an apostate one? If the church of God in Corinth existed in our city today, how would either question be answered?
Corinth had members who were divided into one of four denominated groups. This group psychology affected their fellowship, yet they continued to be one congregation. When Paul wrote to them, he addressed them in the singular form as “the church” and as “the body of Christ.” He did not gloss over their error but sent information on how to correct it. Yet, he did not withdraw from them nor did he refer to them as “apostate,” “liberal,” “unsound,” or “digressive.”
Despite their error in doctrine, their divisive actions, and their arrogant disposition, he commanded withdrawing of fellowship ONLY from ONE of their members. Not one single Gentile nor Jewish assembly described them as “apostate” nor threatened to withdraw from them.
To their credit, they did not scatter, establishing four different denominations called the Northside, Southside, Eastside, nor Westside church. God continued to dwell within them, to inspire them, to perform the gift of healing through them, and to recognize them as His children despite all their unsound ways. Paul had to write a second letter because they did not correct everything addressed in the first one. Yet, in neither epistle does Paul withdraw from them.
For a person to claim to be a Bible believer, but withdraws fellowship when that is not Paul’s instruction, fails in practicing New Testament teaching. When one congregation refuses to fellowship another, yet the one withdrawn from is a lot purer than the church in Corinth, is the one withholding fellowship not following its own pattern rather than God’s?
The divisive nature of the Corinthian church caused the four groups to not wait on one another during Communion. The groups would not share the fruit of the vine nor the unleavened bread. This caused some to remain hungry while others who would not share their wine, consumed it. This resulted in some going home hungry while others got drunk “in church.” Paul rebukes and informs them that they should stay at home due to their attitude. The same could be said today about those who fail to have fellowship with one another. To withdraw fellowship from another is something that Paul refused to do. Instead of continuing fellowship, some promote and justify disunity.